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|Broadcast area||Kansas City Metropolitan Area|
|Callsign meaning||William Jewell College|
|Owner||William Jewell College|
|KWJC-FM 91.9 MHz||Liberty, MO|
|K273BE 102.5 MHz||Richmond, MO|
Prior to a 2003 tornado strike, the radio station was a conventional college radio station, playing alternative music with a broad, eclectic playlist. All disc jockeys were students, many of them in the broadcast technology program. This Station was called "The Edge".
"The Edge" switched to a new format, Adult-Contemporary after a new professor was brought on board. He believed that it was important to teach students how conventional radio stations operated. The new station was called "Jewell 91.9 FM". The station underwent a $100K revamp with all new sound equipment upgrades. The station had professional radio software, sound and recording equipment, even top-quality acoustic foam. Even though many students were disappointed about the change in format, most appreciated the ability to learn more of how a station operated. After a very short celebration that the FCC had approved a signal upgrade, the students and staff were notified a little before the end of the 2005/2006 school year that the station would be leased out to K-LOVE. The school would also be ending the Radio Communications major. Furious students protested, the student managers of the station were allowed an unproductive meeting with the school's President, but it was obvious the school just needed the money.
On May 31, 2006 at noon, a few sad members of the Jewell 91.9 Student & Faculty Staff said an on air goodbye and the station was handed over.
KWJC was launched in 1974 by then head of the William Jewell communication department, the late Dr. Georgia B. Bowman. She convinced the College to name the station after a former beloved Jewell President, Dr. Walter Pope Binns, and so the station was christened "KWPB."
KWBP broadcast from the second floor of the Yates College Union with a 10-watt FM transmitter that could reach the college campus and some of the surrounding town of Liberty, Missouri. There were three rooms: an outer multipurpose production space, an inner work room where the meager collection of albums and '45s were stored, and the control room where broadcasting students operated a two-channel mixing board, two closed cartridge tape transports, one reel-to-reel tape deck and two turntables. The transmitter was located in the control room, with the broadcast antenna mounted just outside the station on the roof of the union building.
Service interruptions were common. When a volunteer was unable to make a shift assignment, the station went off the air. During ice storms, common in that area, ice accumulation on the broadcast antenna would force the station to shut down to protect its transmitter. (KWPB staff learned this lesson the hard way, after internal transmitter components were destroyed during ice events and the station was forced to wait weeks for replacement parts to be shipped in.) The station was also silent during school holidays, including the entire summer.
Much beloved and a little feared by her students, Dr. Bowman made sure that KWPB remained a primarily educational enterprise. The production space was used by students to produce "discussion" recordings, consisting of partly extemporaneous and partly edited recorded conversations among students about issues of the day, that were submitted for competitive evaluation against other college teams. Students wrote and produced public service announcements about every imaginable cause. Students ran station operations, and served as on-air talent. The first program director was a Jewell student named George Townsend who had some experience in radio broadcasting. The staff was all-volunteer, except that some students were paid under the U.S. government's work-study financial aid program.
The station broadcast classical music during the day when few students were likely to be listening, then contemporary music during evenings and weekends. Despite the Baptist heritage of the College, religious content was limited to a regular subscription to "The Word from Unity" and a Southern Baptist youth-oriented program called "Powerline," both of which arrived by mail on reel-to-reel tape.
Evening and weekend contemporary pop music broadcasts were much more popular with the staff, who viewed them as superior training experiences for a future broadcasting career. The station's record collection was inadequate even for a small audience, so student disc jockeys often used their personal collections for their shows, producing a de facto play list that would best be described as eclectic and expansive. These evening shows were not very popular with Dr. Bowman, who occasionally called in to ban a song she had just heard over the air (Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sherriff" is one example.)
Eventually William Jewell football broadcasts were launched for most home and away games. A modest equipment package allowed a two-person broadcast crew to send live play-by-play and color back to the station by telephone link, which were typically dial-up. Leased lines were used as the meager station budget allowed.
During the early years station did not sell sponsorships that are otherwise common in public broadcasting. The college development staff worried that such appeals might dilute Jewell's larger fundraising efforts, and so the station was forced to survive on a small allocation from the school's operating budget. Necessity being the mother of invention, the student staff and director Dr. Bowman improvised.
During the second year of operation, students purchased building materials from a local Liberty merchant (with funds probably provided from Dr. Bowman's personal account) and installed a sound proof, windowed partition between the broadcast booth and the transmitter, finally eliminating transmitter fan noises that had been so noticeable when a microphone was open in the booth. The work was done while the station was on-air, so construction volunteers were forced to suspend work whenever microphones were open.
One cartridge closed-loop tape player used to play public service announcements developed a habit of burning out an internal solid state part. With no repair budget to deploy, student staff enlisted the help of the physics department to diagnose the problem and isolate and replace the failed component.
When an electronics lab student assembled an emergency broadcast system receiver using Popular Mechanics plans and donated parts as a class assignment, station staff appropriated and installed the device in the broadcast booth, and from then on faithfully rebroadcast test alerts their homemade receiver intercepted over the air from other Kansas City area commercial stations.
- Query the FCC's FM station database for KWJC
- Radio-Locator information on KWJC
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for KWJC